How to build a monster stack quickly in tournaments: #4 Don’t over-value hands preflop

You need to be able to put big hands down preflop when you know you’re beat

It is really important to constantly have in the back of your mind that you are much deeper stacked in the first few levels than you will be throughout the rest of the tournament, meaning that any mistakes you make for your full stack now are much bigger mistakes than they would be later on when stacks are shallower. With this in mind, getting the lot in preflop without very specific reads with J-J, Q-Q and A-K suited is often a big mistake. It can result in that all too common feeling of frustration where you trick yourself into thinking you run so bad – as you lose versus their Kings and Aces – when in reality, in most spots in the first few levels the villain is only ever going to get it in preflop with those two hands. 

Often the best option is to three-bet pretty big for value with these hands intending to fold if we are met with a four-bet, safe in the knowledge that our opponent is just going to call with all of the hands that we beat and only put in that terrifying fourth bet with Q-Q+, making a stack off with J-J/Q-Q/A-K pretty disastrous. I know that it feels counterintuitive to three-bet a hand for value and then fold to a four-bet, but without reads or a dynamic then this is often going to be by far the best play, especially in live poker. 

If you are concerned about your opponent overvaluing a hand like Jacks, Queens or A-K – meaning that we are folding the best hand a certain percentage of the time – then just call instead. These three hands hold their value pretty well postflop and including them in your flat calling range preflop actually makes you tougher to play against postflop and allows you to do some pretty cool things down the streets.

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Jamie Sykes is a UK tournament pro – get more strategy from him and other big winners in PokerPlayer magazine every month – subscribe today for just £12.99 for 12 issues!

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